Tuesday, 16 March 2010

Lucifer Bridge and Other Esoteric Poetic Adventures

The following article was written during 2009 for Cornish Surrealist outsider arts magazine Artichoke. I have decided to reproduce it now, as it serves as background material for my poetry book Lucifer Bridge, which was recently published.

Lucifer Bridge and Other Esoteric Poet
ic Adventures
A Poetic Primer

by Alex Langstone

Once upon a time and a very good time it was there was a personal dreamtime, a dreamtime sequence of events that seemingly had no end. It had, however a definitive beginning. The profane poet devourers could do nothing, and the old bones of my forefathers lay silent. I was eager. Not known, because not looked for but heard, half-heard, in the stillness between two waves of the sea.

During the early 1990s I had a series of visionary experiences which set me off in a new creative direction and on a new poetic adventure. I had been writing since 1988, when I was editor of underground occult magazine ASH Magazine (Albion’s Sacred Heritage). I had a background in Witchcraft and folk tradition, and I had studied with a secret Essex coven during the mid 1980s, as well as being an active member of a local Earth Mysteries group, which met monthly in south east Essex. All of which gave me a thoroughly excellent background for what subsequently followed. I hereby present a few of these esoteric poetic journeys for your amusement, bewilderment and possible excitement!

In 1989 I had a vision of the Goddess at Slaughter Bridge in North Cornwall. She was different to any goddess I had previously encountered. She was 10 foot tall and was bathed in a strong red glow, like the sunset! She arose from the river Camel. She had pale skin and dark burning eyes. Upon her head she had huge deer antlers branching outwards and upwards towards the sky. She looked at me with that knowing look which leaves a hideously uncomfortable feeling within, the look that can read an entire life history in seconds. She continued to rise upwards. She was now floating above the swirling waters of the picturesque Cornish river. Was she a demon? I wasn’t at all sure. She was looking down at me. All of a sudden she charged towards me across the river, pinning me to the ground with her horns, she had pierced my torso, and her horns were now embedded through me, and I was joined with the landscape in a peculiar ritualised stabbing, though I felt no pain! I looked up, and realised that she had disappeared. Twenty years later I returned to the river Camel, just a few miles down stream of that fateful encounter I find myself living at the Cornish sacred enclosure of Elen, by one of the few medieval bridges to still span the flowing waters of the North Cornwall River.

A very different vision of the Goddess was perceived at West Kennet Long Barrow in the summer of 1991. It had been an archetypal British summer’s day, blue skies, fluffy white clouds and lark-song high above the chalk downs of Wiltshire. My head was full of the sky during this particular summer, a series of psychic visions had led me to Nuit, Egyptian sky goddess, arching over humanity, torso the milky way, womb the great infinite universe of which we are all born from. Spending the night in West Kennet Neolithic long barrow, was all it took to tip me over the edge into Her world, and this poem was one result of the vision:

Written at West Kennet Long Barrow

Ursa Major!
Revealed itself to me
From an ancient tomb
Of mortality.

Glistening stars shine down
From heaven
And the seven cosmic lights
A gateway to the
Beauty of Nuit:
Queen of Heaven
Stars and sky
And the pulsing breath of
The universe is heard
Gently emerging from darkness
To hold and caress
Leading us toward
A new dawn.

Ursa Major
Revealed Herself to me
From an ancient womb
Of immortality.

So Goddess Nuit was above and within me, what an inspiration and a startling visionary way to experience the night sky.

July 1994 saw more avant-garde esoteric poetic exploration. A very strange series of events had let me and occult author Paul Weston, to visit the picturesque Kent town of Tonbridge. Nearby Hever Castle was first on the agenda. I had received some very odd Enochian style communications from a various assortment of outlandish other-worldly beings! These bizarre non-human deviants showed us around the fourth dimensional Hever Castle, and to this day I cannot recall much of the ordinary 3D stately home!

Whilst at Hever Castle, my non-human friends told us that we had to go to nearby Chiddingstone as a matter of urgency, as something would manifest to us there! Intrigued, we left historic Hever Castle and headed west, following the course of the gorgeous river Medway. Chiddingstone village is one of the most perfectly preserved Tudor villages in Britain, and as an inevitable result of this, it all now belongs to the National Trust. On the edge of the Tudor “theme park” lays the Chiding Stone a natural sandstone rocky outcrop. Its history is obscure, but locally the stone is known as the seat of judgement!

We arrived at the large bulbous rock, and I soon became aware of a different energy. As I sat by the rock, I felt a huge pulsing energy enter my body from the earth, and a bright golden light started to grow from the stone. Then from the golden light appeared a huge griffin, wings outstretched along the horizon. His head had a magnificent curved beak and his eyes were starless and bible black! He was standing, rearing up on his hind legs, which were the strong feline paws of a magnificent lion. His front talons were clenched, as if holding some recently caught prey. I notice that upon his head he wore a golden crown, and protruding through this crown, were two large dark horns.

The image was changing; a man was emerging from the visionary beast, a naked man, with arms outstretched and from his shoulder blades grew huge peacock feathers. An unknown light source emanating from a point somewhere beyond him was throwing the image into chaos, and I found it difficult to focus. The man and the griffin were blending, merging and morphing. Changing constantly, as if trying to confuse and disorient me.

He spoke, and confirmed his identity as Lucifer, light bearer, but I had already intuitively recognised and acknowledged him. He told us that we would gain a great treasure if we visited a nearby site. “Look for ruins”. He then promptly vanished.

I was astonished by the intensity of the vision, and quickly realised that we needed to look at a map, to see if there were any ruins nearby. Sure enough there were ruins, and more importantly nearby the ruins, spanning the river Medway we discovered Lucifer Bridge!

I instantly knew we had to visit at dusk, which we did. Lucifer never reappeared, but shadowy angelic beings did, and a discarnate voice claiming his name did tell us to wait for darkness. The following poem was the result of this extraordinary episode, and I am absolutely convinced that my great treasure was the new life I would shortly find in Cornwall. A treasure that I still honour, cherish and enjoy today. Thanks Lucifer!

Awaiting Twilight Upon Lucifer Bridge

Slowly the river flows
Steadily moving forwards
Towards unknown destinations
And expectations.
Fish of Dagon cause ripples
Which induce disturbances
Like those of my mind
As I first look up stream
And then down.
Lush green trees
Swoop like the curve
Of Angel's wings
Down to the water's surface
Sometimes breaking the stillness
Of the moment.
Bird song and cry
Pierce the dusky haze
Preceding darkness,
A song of sorrow maybe?
Like that of an infant motherless
We await twilight upon Lucifer Bridge.
At the chosen moment they come
From their grazing pastures
The Nephilim!
Standing, floating amid the mist on the river.
What has thy forsaken to be here
At this crepuscular hour?
A fleeting vision of beauty
Unfolds to that of sorrow,
As the angels retreat
I peruse the scene
Now lost in the moment forever
Within the darkness of
Lucifer Bridge.

Dark Angels and Sea Serpents
Within a mere three months of my poetic adventure with Lucifer, I had left my home in Essex. I had deliberately cut myself off from all that was familiar. I needed fresh impetus for my creativity, and Celtic Cornwall had proved itself within a few hours of arrival.

Above: Morgawr, the serpent of Falmouth Bay.

Within days, I had gained psychic perception of a sacred alignment of ancient sites, which spanned over 30 miles of the south coast of Cornwall. It began with a vision of a black swan, flying over the coastline. Listen. It is night moving in the streets, the processional salt slow musical wind from Mevagissey harbour, harbouring a vision of the black-swan dark-angel twin-protector lord of dark and light.

This alignment of sites we temporarily named “the Swan line”, and within a few more days it had become a portal for a new manifestation – Segonia had slipped into my reality, and here he would stay! The alignment was a poetic line of sites, not a ley. The portal of Segonia begins at the cove of the singing mermaids, at Gunwalloe Church, on the west coast of the mysterious Lizard land. It ends at an aptly named promontory called Black Head, at the eastern end of Mavagissey Bay.

Accompanied by artist Yuri Leitch, I explored many of the sites along the Poetic Portal of Segonia during December 1994. Starting in the east we visited the dark rocky peninsular of Black Head, with its few remaining ramparts, the once great Iron Age cliff fort looks like the head of a partly submerged giant sea-serpent guarding Mevagissey Bay. The promontory has beautiful sweeping views along Cornwall’s south coast. It was whilst standing on the headland that I gained an inner vision of two huge swans, one black, the other white. They were facing each other, and between them was a snaking coiled serpent. As I watched, the swan’s necks became entwined, suggesting writhing serpents. The vision ended with swans and serpents flying off across the bay towards Veryan and Carne Beacon. Other sites nearby are the White River, Sconhoe Beach cave, Temple Wood and the exquisitely named Dark Dale Woods, where a vision of the Stag-headed one Cernunnos and his leafy-green fey friends was had just a few weeks later.

The next major site on the line is at Veryan. The village is mentioned in the Domesday Book as Elerkey from the Cornish Elerk, meaning swan! In the village we found the Elerkey Hotel with a swan depicted on the board outside.

At dusk we arrived at Carne Beacon, the largest bronze age round barrow in Cornwall. Whilst standing on top of this ancient monument, looking across the shining sea, I saw the two swans land. They reared up and flapped their wings, creating an archway. As each swan moved aside, a shining goddess revealed herself to me. I knew her as Elen, she was dressed in white with cascading flame-red hair. Around her neck she wore a silver swan and a golden serpent. She emerged from the swans and from the sea, and she rose up into the sky, where the afterglow of the December sunset bathed her in a rich coppery light. I stood in awe, transfixed by her glowing presence before she disappeared in a bonfire of golden flames. As the flames roared, the two swans flew out of the crackling, singing fire and headed westward. I instinctively knew we had to follow.

The following day we visited the other sites along the portal – Swanpool at Falmouth, Gear Gump settlement enclosure, Caer Vallack hill fort, Halligue Fogou and Trelowarren house, (where we were randomly invited to a sumptuous private Christmas feast in a huge barn decorated with masses of Holly and Ivy?) Such is the way of these poetic dreamtime psychic quests!

Segonia? Well he appeared to me as a twin-faced black/white swan-man. An angelic handsome protector, I supposed that he was my holy guardian angel! He was beautiful, I loved him from the beginning, and he became my occult muse.

On the reedy banks of the gorgeous creeky Fal River at St Clement, I communed with Segonia. With fresh water on one side and the briny tidal Fal the other; two swans flew low towards me, one black, one white. Landing on the fresh-water pool they swam a while together.

Hail to thee: Segonia bright angel of birth.
dark angel of mirth.
winged angel of light.
dark angel of night.
You are within me, around me, a part of me.
You have always been in me, around me, a part of me.
my sweet salvation,
my dark soul angel of delight.
Sing aloud with me.
Sing softly with thee. O Glorious One.
Bringer of the light, my Bright Watcher of the night!

Owlmen and other weird things.
During my second week living in Cornwall I found myself dreaming of sea serpents in Mevagissey Bay. I decided it may be time to revisit Tony ‘Doc’ Shiels, classic surrealist tale Monstrum! The book was published by Fortean Tomes in September 1990, and told the story of the author’s relationships with Cornish sea monsters, Charles Fort, surrealist witchcraft, Max Ernst and the Owl Man of Mawnan Smith, among other things!

Above: Chesca Potter's beautiful Shamanic Tarot image of
the Seer, this is very much how I see the Mawnan Owlman/woman.

The following day a local paper reported fresh sightings of Morgawr, Cornwall’s very own “Nessie”. The week following, the Owl Man of Mawnan woods had been spotted for the first time in years. This strange apparition has appeared regularly over many years in the dense evergreen oak woods between Mawnan church and the Helford River estuary. Various people have described the creature as a vision from hell, but I personally like the idea of an owl man living in the woods, and I personally like to think of the Owlman as a shamanic glyph of the ancient wisdom of the land, rather than a monster from hell! It is good to know that others are seeing stranger things than I. The serpentine dancing energies of the land are truly alive in Kernow!

Spring 1995 saw a vision of Pan in a field on the edge of the Cornish cathedral city of Truro. He stood in a field, at dusk. A gentle rain was falling. The Goat God was naked. His muscular body was defined by the half-light of the crepuscular hour. He stood tall and powerful, He had hooves for feet and goat-like legs. His torso was human and masculine, and his broad chest was covered in dark hair. His bulging arms and powerful curving shoulders led me to contemplate his handsome horned head. His eyes were deep brown and had a piercing lustful gaze. He breathing was heavy and his adrenaline fuelled stance told me that he had been running. In my head, Gustav Holst’s little known beautiful mood enhancing string arrangement of Nocturne, the second movement from his Moorside Suite played perpetually, whilst the vision intensified. Pan came closer, much closer. Io Pan! O Come let us adore Him!

So there you have it, a brief mystical sojourn into a few of my poetic adventures, my esoteric explorations and my visionary night mares. Or maybe, just maybe the blarneyest blather in all Corneywall!

This article owes a nod and a wink to James Joyce, T.S. Eliot, Dylan Thomas, Doc Shiels, Aleister Crowley and Robert Graves.

I shall write more about the Segonia poetic portal alignment in due course, watch this space....

Further reading.
Monstrum, a Wizard's Tale by Tony 'Doc' Shiels. Fortean Tomes, 1990.
Hymn to Pan by Aleister Crowley. 1929.
The White Goddess by Robert Graves. Faber and Faber 1948.
The Owlman and Others by Jonathan Downes. CFZ Press 2006.